Daily Archives: March 9, 2009

Smile! No one cares how you feel.

Stephin Merritt (w/ ukelele) and Mark Hayes, WAGA

Stephin Merritt (w/ ukelele) and Mark Hayes, WAGA

On a fall morning in 2006, a reporter wanders over to the copier in the newsroom of an Atlanta TV station.  He picks up his paper, and notices another paper laying on the copier.  The stray paper lists the guests for that morning’s locally-produced 7 to 9am news/ public affairs / entertainment extravaganza.

The reporter’s eyes nearly bug out as he reads the name of one guest:  Stephin Merritt, a respected musician and songwriter of limited acclaim.  Hailing from NYC, Merritt fronts a band called the Magnetic Fields, among others.  The reporter is a fan and can’t believe his station’s predictable morning show actually had an interesting, off-the-wall guest.

The reporter race-walks to the room where the morning show crew is holding its daily post-mortem.  He whispers to a friend / co-worker who books guests:  “Was Stephin Merritt really in the building this morning?”  The entire room goes silent.

“Worst guest ever!” says one voice.

“Oh my gosh.  He was awful!” says another.

“You actually like this guy?” asks a voice, almost accusingly.

Yes, I like him.  He’s wonderful.  I don’t know what kind of TV guest he’d be, but the guy’s a genius, the reporter uneasily responds.

“You can have him,” says a voice.  Another staffer says:  “And you can have this.”  The staffer hands the on-the-defensive reporter Merritt’s newest CD. “I was going to put it into the giveaway drawer.”

Merritt made the record under the name The Gothic Archies.  It’s called “The Tragic Treasury,” songs culled from the Limony Snickett series of audio books.

The CD remains one of the ex-reporter’s favorite records.  And upon review (he just found the segment on Youtube), he thinks Merritt may have been one of the best guests to ever appear on this show.